Adventure. One seeks it daily in their mundane lifestyle. While one can get the thrill of adventure using different methods, nothing beats exploring new horizons on a motorcycle. It is for this very purpose adventure tourers were built. A motorcycle with go anywhere capability. Suzuki India has just jumped in onto the bandwagon with the Suzuki Vstrom 650, its first middleweight option. We were in Jaipur to ride the motorcycle for a total of almost 300km.
Suzuki Vstrom 650 Looks and features
The styling obviously has been inspired from the bigger V-Strom 1000. Elements like the vertically stacked headlights (halogens), the carbon fiber beak, the windscreen as well as the general silhouette and colour schemes will remind one of the bigger bike. Adding to its adventure tourer credentials are the spoked 19-inch wheel in front and 17-inch at the back. Knuckle guards, seat height of 835mm, a 20-litre fuel tank and an engine bash plate are also part of the package. There is also a 12V DC outlet as a standard feature. One can plug their phone for charging or for using the navigation maps. The windscreen is adjustable for 3 different positions as well, however it requires an Allen key to do so. The electronics in the Suzuki Vstrom 650 include non switchable dual channel ABS as well as two mode traction control which can be turned off.
Genuine accessories that one can purchase separately from Suzuki include a less padded seat which brings down the seat height by 20mm, side crash guards, a chain cover and a top box. The latter’s mounts too are an option. However, given the generous seat and padding, a top box along with two panniers on the side will still not be too much while travelling long distances.
Suzuki has given an adjustable front brake lever. The meter console is a semi-digital unit. It helps in the way that even under harsh sunlight, things are easy to understand and legible. However, the traction control modes can only be operated when the motorcycle is stationary. The side stand indicator will also cut off the engine if the rider has parked the motorcycle without slipping the gear into neutral.
Suzuki Vstrom 650 Engine and Transmission
Suzuki has utilized a new 645cc liquid cooled v-twin engine in the V-Strom. This engine makes a peak power output of 72PS while the torque generated is 62Nm. The engine is very smooth and there is ample of low and mid range torque. Not only this, the motorcycle is happy to trundle around in town at 3rd gear. In the same gear, twist the throttle and the motorcycle will easily pull though. This is going to be a favourite with the riders. There is also an anti-stall function dialed in at lower revs. This will essentially prevent the motorcycle from stalling. In spite of being a newbie to big bikes, never once did the Suzuki Vstrom 650 stall on me. The engine also doesn’t heat up much during the city or highway commute. We liked the precise fuelling as well as the engine response. The 6-speed transmission doesn’t have a slipper clutch but is light enough to not warrant one. Gearshifts too are smooth. On the arrow straight roads of Jaipur, the Suzuki Vstrom 650 easily crossed 160kmph with scope for more. Constantly during our ride, the motorcycle gave around 27kmpl. This with the 20 litre fuel tank should easily translate to a range of 400km.
Suzuki Vstrom 650 Ride and Handling
The kerb weight of the motorcycle is 216kg. However once astride, it becomes as nimble as your regular 300cc motorcycle. You’re perched higher up and while this gives you good visibility, the slightly adjustable mirrors too provide a decent view of what’s happening behind. I would have liked the mirrors to be a bit more adjustable. The adjustable windscreen also provides ample ventilation to the chest and neck of the rider.
Telescopic front forks and a pre-load adjustable monoshock are the suspension components. The rear is pre-load adjustable and doesn’t require tools as well. One can simply twist the knob and set it. The Suzuki does feel a bit firm and while the front forks do tell you what’s happening underneath, nothing is transmitted on to the rider thereby isolating him or her from the road imperfections. This one is also very light while taking turns and shouldn’t be out of place on a racetrack. The 2-mode traction control works well and is non intrusive. However the Bridgestone Battalax tyres are better suited for on-road capability than off-road. They don’t give you 100 per cent confidence to venture in the loose sand. The ground clearance is decent however we did hit the belly pan over a particularly nasty speed breaker. So a bit more of ground clearance too will not be amiss.
The dual discs in front as well as a single unit at the rear handle braking duties. While the brake stopping power is adequate, some more feel at the levers will be welcome. In the sense, this Suzuki is great for someone upgrading from a Himalayan but not for a Ninja 650 rider.
Suzuki Vstrom 650 Verdict
I don’t recollect the last time I was so impressed by a motorcycle. The Suzuki Versys 650 XT ABS has good grunt, refinement and efficiency. These things will make it a proper highway tourer. It’s torquey engine means it will be at home even in the city confines. The fly in the ointment could be the road biased tyres and the slightly highish Rs 9.60 lakh on-road price in Mumbai. It’s competition includes the Kawasaki Versys 650 which is priced around Rs 2 lakh less on-road. If you can afford the extra moolah, I will recommend the Suzuki Versys 650 XT ABS whole heartedly.